Tissue culture materials have progressed from mere substrates on which the culture of cells can occur to stages on which the activity and fate of the cell can be orchestrated.1 Although the processes involved are not entirely understood, the physical and chemical properties of the culture material are key to the influence of cell behaviour. Of particular interest is the identification of surface properties that control cell populations in a manner which can be applied in biomedical research, such as control of cell fate and processes such as cellular adhesion. In the first instance the influence of silica surfaces of defined functionality and topology on the fate of a prostatic adenocarcinoma is described. Surface dependant enrichment of a epithelial sub-population from a mixed population being demonstrated using flow cytometry.2 In the case of controlling cellular adhesion a fluoro-silica surface which promotes the deposition of a distinct profile of proteins/factors from serum which mediate the transient aggregation of human breast cancer cell lines is presented.3 This surface provides an experimental platform for better understanding cancer cell aggregation–disaggregation events in vitro, and their influence on the establishment of metastatic disease in patients with cancer. These studies using several discrete surfaces demonstrate of the potential surface properties have in the control and study of cell populations. The challenge is to understand how these cellular responses are related and vary between different cell lines across materials differing in the nature of their presented surface properties.
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